Wednesday, May 24, 2006
Totem Pole
<>I am at the bottom of the totem pole. And I’m okay with that. I know my role in the department and how it contributes. I understand that what I do has its function and therefore I strive to do it as best as I can. I have a good job, and for the most part, I feel that I’m respected and treated respectfully by physicians and nurses. Like everyone, I have good days, bad days, hectic days, and slow days. But at the end of the day I love being and Emergency Department Ward Clerk.

A physician was on his way to the photocopier. He stopped by my desk to verify the password. I confirmed that he had it right. A nurse piped up and said, “Tracy can go copy that for you”.

Sympathetically, he looked at the multitude of papers that covered my desk as I attempted to finish the last of the paperwork before the next shift started. I told him not to worry about it and I reached out and took the paper out of his hands. <>I looked at the paper and explained the hesitation I felt towards obliging to the request. He questioned the usual procedure and I explained it to him. He understood. But then, again, a nurse piped up and explained in this case why it was okay. His Dad is a cardiac surgeon. If they want a copy of their EKG they can have one.

The physician looked at me, the nurse looked at me. Both looked at me with looks that said, “We’re not going to ask you again”. It was obvious that I lost my case. Dutifully, I obliged to their request. <>I returned to the nursing station one minute later. Years of Health Records experience, and ER experience told me that handing a patient a copy of their chart is wrong. We can fax it to their family doc, but as to hand a copy over in person, we’re not supposed to. I know that.

But this time, I wasn’t given a choice. And after denying the request and being asked again, or rather told again, I knew I had to oblige. So I handed over the papers and clarified that if anyone asked, they didn’t get them from me. Because I know, it’s me, and I should know better.

<>And it’s not so much the fact that I did what I wasn’t supposed to that bothers me. It’s that I wasn’t given a choice. I made my case according to hospital policies and my experiences and it was ignored. I stated why I was uncomfortable with the request but all that was tossed aside because of who the person making the request was. And at the end of the day, I can’t help but wonder if the person denying the request has any say at all. Because the physician, the nurse and the family all looked at me as if to say “you know your place, how dare you talk back to us”.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Document, document, document...every time something like this happens. Keep a detailed accounting of the who/what/when/where/what was said.

This can come back to haunt you. They had YOU do it because if there ever is an issue...they think they have just successfully pawned it off on you.

I work in this type of atmosphere all the time. I am straight up about every single thing they 'tell me' to do that I know is not right. I remind them that the 'ethics training' we take and sign off on each year requires me to document these instances. That has helped them to have fewer 'instances'inovlving me! :-)

Anonymous Anonymous said...

If the nurse and the doc wanted it done they were perfectly capable. If you had made the copy and then handed it back to one of them you would hae complied with their instructions, and made your point at the same time.

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